Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
It’s hard to count this team out after watching what it accomplished against seemingly insurmountable obstacles earlier in the playoffs, but unless the Hurricanes have untapped reserves of emotion that are far from apparent at this point, their future is grim.
If the Hurricanes had that kind of fight left, they would have used it at some point in the first three games, when the opportunity was there to take control. Instead, the Hurricanes capitulated, and now it’s too late.
They got this far on emotion. On heart. On drive. To beat the Penguins, the Hurricanes would have needed as much, if not more, of it. Instead, they’re spent—and their season most likely is as well.
Q. Everybody knows the odds and things like that. But also you get a game at home. What is the message to your team tomorrow?
COACH MAURICE: Just that most importantly, don’t view the whole picture. Just get a small glimpse. We need to have to get some relief to reclaim. And then there’s more of a chance to play after that game.
The question you asked me after Game 1 of the Boston series, we thought we were 0?6 against them at that point. That’s the most important thing. The reason we’ve gotten here is the belief to stay in the fight as long as we possibly can. Now we’re at a point there’s no tomorrow.
So I don’t know how many cliches that is, but insert your favorite cliche at this point.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
In the moments after Evgeni Malkin deftly dropped the puck back between his skates to Ruslan Fedotenko, who ripped a shot past Cam Ward to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead, the television cameras panned briefly to Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
In that moment, Seidenberg gave a look—half grimace, half resignation with a dash of, what, maybe admiration—that sums up what the Carolina Hurricanes are now feeling.
Over the course of three straight wins, the Pens have outscored the previously high-flying Hurricanes 16-8, including Saturday’s 6-2 victory, as Pittsburgh now owns a death-grip 3-0 series lead.
That they will advance at some point is now a foregone conclusion, the only question to be answered is when. When they do advance, they will be carried by the most devastating one-two punch the NHL has seen in a generation, maybe since Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux were winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
Penguins offense continues to impress and they come away with a 6-2 victory over the Hurricanes.
added 10:34pm, game highlights via Versus added below…
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Through earlier upsets of New Jersey and Boston, it was the stellar goaltending of Ward combined with the relentless offence of Staal that carried the Cardiac Canes.
But now, two losses into the series, Carolina desperately needs a big performance from both those players in order to keep that deficit from becoming insurmountable.
Staal has not scored in the last five games and has but a lone assist in the conference final. Ward gave up six goals in a 7-4 loss Thursday, the most he has ever allowed in a playoff game. In 38 previous post-season appearances, Ward had never given up more than four goals.
As he watches Crosby and Malkin put up big numbers – nine points between them in the first two games – Staal understands he also has to produce.
from Chip Alexander of the News & Observer,
They simply call him “Geno,” which doesn’t have much of a menacing—or marketing—ring to it. A native Russian, he still speaks halting English and shies away from media interviews.
But it was Malkin who was the NHL’s leading scorer this season, winning the Art Ross Trophy. It is Malkin who could be the league’s MVP. It is Malkin, at 22, who is making many wonder what’s next and how high the center’s professional ceiling can be.
More than that, it is Malkin, No. 71, who quickly is becoming the Carolina Hurricanes’ No. 1 headache in the Eastern Conference finals.
Q. Any update yet on Cole and Ruutu.
COACH MAURICE: It happened 12 hours ago. We’re not going to know for a little while. Haven’t seen the guys. Usually they don’t take my medical thing anyway.
Q. Did you encourage the NHL to take a look at that?
COACH MAURICE: No, I nothing to do with that. I just coach.
Q. Would you expect them to do that?
COACH MAURICE: They do. They watch the games actually.
from Paul Branecky of CarolinaHurricanes.com,
Now we face the first of three agonizing sets of two-day breaks in this series before these teams go at it again on Thursday. After the game, Fleury said that the Penguins would like to get right back into it and play Game 2 as soon as possible, which I think the Canes might also say after a game in which they played pretty well for the most part, with the exception of a brief but damaging meltdown in the first period. They should be eager to atone for that in Game 2.
However, the scheduling should actually do them some good as Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu get a chance to rest. Both players left the game with lower body injuries, with an immediate update on their status not available.
While they’ve combined for just one goal this postseason, they are important in establishing the team’s forecheck and cycling game in the offensive zone, and would be sorely missed if they can’t go for the next game. We’ve seen two-day breaks work out both ways momentum-wise, so I don’t think that side of it matters much, but playing just three games in the next 10 days could be crucial for those two.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
This is a big-time goaltender, folks.
Like all of ‘em, Fleury gives up a bad goal here and there. It happened in the Washington series and the Philadelphia series before that.
But like only the truly great ones, Fleury makes the huge saves when they mean the most. That’s why you can’t just look at his statistics, which couldn’t match Ward’s coming into the series. Against Philadelphia, the big stop came in the third period of Game 2 when Fleury stopped center Jeff Carter with a fabulous skate save, giving the Penguins a chance to win in overtime. Against Washington, it was stealing the Capitals’ great Alexander Ovechkin blind early in Game 7 with a glove save that led directly to the Penguins’ 6-2 win.
Then, last night.
Fleury was a wall early in a 0-0 game, making great saves on Tuomo Ruutu, Eric Staal, Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen during a Carolina power play. He robbed center Chad LaRose in the second period, somehow stopping his backhander after a rebound. And he was big late, diving to make a save that prevented Staal from scoring the tying goal in the final 30 seconds.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
The Hurricanes lost Erik Cole midway through the third period after Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke caught him knee-on-knee in front of the Pittsburgh net. Cole played only one shift after that, and an angry Paul Maurice wasn’t happy about the hit afterward.
Asked if he thought it was a knee-on-knee hit, with the implication that it was an illegal one, a curt Maurice said, “Yes, I did. I felt that was, yeah.”
Cole officially has a “lower body” injury, but he clearly hurt his left knee in the collision. Cooke said the contact was accidental.
“He was cutting across the middle,” Cooke said. “I turned sideways to hit him, and he turned the other way. I almost fell over, too.”
continued and watch the hit (1:15 mark) within the video highlights below…
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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